How does growing your business 20% sound to you? How does it sound to do that consistently every year? Over the years, one of the things I’ve discovered in working with companies large and small is that organizations that exemplify sustained superior performance have a remarkable culture. In my last blog, we discussed how identifying and defining your company’s core values is at the heart of company culture. But, if you do not plan your core values, they will develop anyway, the results of which can be devastating. Today, let’s discuss eight practical ways to implement your core values into your organization.
Implementing Your Core Values
It takes discipline and diligence to create a culture. You must instill your core values in everything you do, every day, and in every way. The number one reason core values do not get ingrained in many businesses is that most senior executives do not live them. If the top three executives (e.g., CEO, COO, and CFO) are not role models, expect that the rest of the employees will not consistently exhibit the company’s stated core values.
Once you have clearly identified and defined your values, execution through spaced repetition and consistency is imperative. This is the most difficult and essential part of forming your culture. Most everything we have learned we’ve learned through spaced repetition. Think about how you learned the multiplication tables. Indeed, this is the method the advertising world uses to imprint the messages they want us to receive. Likewise, an organization must develop a repetitive system for all employees to hear, see, and act the company values.
Verne Harnish, in Scaling Up, does an excellent job of identifying how to institutionalize core values into your organization. He has put together the following checklist to ensure that you do not have a gap in building core values into your business.
1. Storytelling – Everybody enjoys a good story, and many great leaders have taught through parable or storytelling. Identify some “legends” and current stories that demonstrate each value. Stories can provide explanations for any core values that might seem unusual or cryptic on their own.
2. Recruitment and Selection – Design your new hire interview questions and assessments to test a candidate’s alignment with your core values. Then, rate the person in terms of their perceived alignment with each core value. After all, your goal is to make sure your new hires fit in your organization’s culture.
3. Orientation – Once hired, your new employee must be brought into the culture. Like many social organization initiations, orientation (you do have one?) is when you can teach the company’s core values. Consider organizing your orientation around the teaching of your core values.
4. Performance Appraisal and Handbooks – Core values should provide the framework for building your performance appraisal system. With a little creativity, any performance measure can be linked with a core value. Additionally, organize your employee handbook into sections around each core value.
5. Recognition and Reward – Organize your recognition and reward categories around your core values. You also gain a new source of corporate stories and legends each time a reward or recognition is given that highlights a core value.
6. Newsletters – Why struggle to come up with a catchy title for a newsletter when some word or phrase from your core values will do beautifully? Highlight a core value with each issue, incorporating stories—yes, more stories—about people putting these core values to work for the betterment of the company.
7. Themes – Use your core values to bring attention to your corporate improvement efforts. Milliken, the textile manufacturer, takes one of their core values and makes it the quarter’s theme, asking all employees to focus on ways to improve the company around the theme. The Ritz-Carlton chain goes to the other extreme and highlights worldwide one “rule” every day. In either case, establish a rhythm that keeps the core values top-of-mind in a repetitive fashion.
8. Everyday Management – I’ve found that managers and CEOs can repeat core values almost endlessly without it seeming ridiculous—so long as the core values they’re using truly are relevant and meaningful to their employees. When you make a decision, relate it to a value. When you reprimand or praise, refer to a value. When customer issues arise, by all means, compare the situation to the ideal represented by the value. As small as these actions may sound, they probably do more than any of the strategies mentioned above for bringing core values alive in your organization.
So, back to my first question: How would you like to grow your business by 20%? While I can’t guarantee that, I can confirm that a positive company culture with clearly-defined and implemented core values will go a long way in sustaining superior performance. It is one of the hidden secrets to maximizing corporate growth and profits. If you want to see employee satisfaction and retention, customer loyalty, new business growth, vendor loyalty, an improved pool of job candidates, innovation, and brand improvement, focus on core values. The rest will follow.
In my next blog, I’ll share ways to motivate your team, an important topic, especially during these pandemic-affected times. Join me then!
In the meantime, let us know how we can help grow your business by 20%, even in a pandemic. Receive a free 30-minute consultation from one of Activate Group’s expert business coaches. No strings attached. We just want to help you during the COVID crisis.